$20K to clean meth lab apt.

$20,000.

That’s the approximate cost of decontaminating an apartment at Riverview Terrace that was the found to be the site of a methamphetamine lab late last month.

The Housing Authority of Warren County’s board of directors was updated on the authority’s response during its meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Part of the response will be training.

Authority Executive Director Tonya Mitchell-Weston said the authority is exploring multiple training options that would enhance the staff’s ability to detect such activities.

“We definitely need to be trained,” she said. “(We) need to recognize certain things in an apartment that give you signals that is happening.”

Board member Frank Wilcox asked the staff how the Resident Advisory Board felt about the situation.

Mitchell-Weston said a meeting with the tenants was held the day the situation broke and the tenants were “very, very concerned (and) wanted to rat out everybody for doing everything.”

She identified part of the problem as the speed with which data is shared.

“We don’t get information timely enough to do anything,” she said, noting that the first two tips on the recent meth bust were from Housing Authority tenants while a third tip set the law enforcement activity in motion.

Wilcox asked if the authority can conduct random inspections.

Mitchell-Weston said it could not, noting it is required to give a tenant 48 hours notice prior to an inspection “unless there is a threat to health or safety.”

“It seems like you should be able to protect your property,” said Wilcox.

Mitchell-Weston said that training will be forthcoming for the residents as well to assist them in identifying signs of such activity.

“This could have been disastrous,” said Board Chairman Mike Lewis.

Board member Kristy Knupp said that “training would help neighbors notice things.”

“One of the primary signals, where folks are conducting the activity, they are not there very often. You see them there very rarely. They did live there, she did. She did not stay there all the time,” Mitchell-Weston said of Makia Niccole Haines, 74 Allegheny Dr., who was one of three arrested in the incident.

Lewis said he was surprised that the incident occurred given the fact that Conewango Township police has a substation on site.

“They are hardly ever there,” said Knupp.

“We did spend money to put that in there,” said Lewis. “If they’re not utilizing it, it is as much their fault as it is ours.”

“They are understaffed also,” said Mitchell-Weston. “They’re there when they can be there.”

Lewis then proposed a neighborhood watch.

“We can do that,” said Mitchell-Weston. “(We are) looking at supervised playground time so there would be someone there. A lot of folks up there were very into making it better.”

She said that there are a “handful of people there” that are “only there because they haven’t gotten caught.”

“It’s unfortunate it happened,” said Lewis. “It could have been a whole lot worse.”